The Waters and Wines of France

With Tauck River Cruises, travelers can explore from Paris to Provence while enjoying the spoils of both land and sea.

Menus can change for each meal, depending on what’s fresh and local. Wine, too, is an important part of this cruise, and the ship’s culinary department buys wines that come from the area in which we’re sailing.

By John and Sandra Nowlan

The culture and cuisine of Southern France is a luxury unto itself. The fact that Tauck River Cruises offers an itinerary along the Rhone entitled “French Waterways and Vineyards” is perhaps too tempting to pass up.

Tauck, a touring company since 1925, is unique in providing a cruise director and three full-time tour directors on each of its four European river ships as part of an all-inclusive cruise experience. All excursions, tipping, wine with meals, plus transportation to and from airports or railway stations are included.

Our Rhone cruise actually begins in Paris with a two-night stay in the City of Lights. We enjoy several orientation tours but a reception and dinner at the iconic Fouquet’s restaurant on the Champs-Élysées gets the cruise adventure off to a delicious start.

On day three, we board the high-speed TGV train and head south toward the Rhone River and the city of Lyon, known as the gastronomic capital of France. Excellent local guides take us through the medieval Vieux Lyon, with its narrow streets and secret passageways. We enjoy shopping and lunch samples at the famous Les Halles market, then board buses for wine tastings at a nearby Beaujolais vineyard.

Home Sweet Ship

Our home for the next week is the 361-foot-long ms Swiss Emerald. River cruise ships are, by necessity, limited in their length and height to navigate locks and low bridges. Most carry 150 or more passengers, but Tauck limits its guests to 118, providing larger staterooms — most with French balconies, including 14 suites measuring 300 square feet — and more generous public spaces.

The ship’s layout is impressive. …

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